2 journalists attacked in Ferguson riots, police refuse to help

2 journalists attacked in Ferguson riots, police refuse to help
Two journalists from a Russian news agency were attacked by a group of youths during unrest in Ferguson. Police then refused to help them get to their car. After later discovering their vehicle had been burnt, they struggled to file a police report.

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Two correspondents – a Russian citizen working for RIA Novosti and a UK national and freelance journalist from Sputnik agency – were attacked on the street by a group of teenagers. Both news outlets are part of Rossiya Segodnya agency.

The two left their car to ask the teens about their reaction to the grand jury’s decision to clear police officer Darren Wilson of murder charges. Wilson fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, 18, in August.

However, the youngsters assaulted the journalists in response, demanding their car keys and cell phones. One of the correspondents was hit on the head, while the angry teens tried to grab a bag from the other. Both managed to escape the attackers and sought help from police patrolling the area.

However, when the journalists asked the nearby police patrol to help them out, the officers turned down their plea on the grounds that the teens “might be armed,” RIA Novosti reported.

The men returned to the scene of the attack the next morning – only to discover that their car had been burnt. They went to the police to report the incident – but this also turned out to be an ordeal.

“We had to visit several police posts because in Ferguson there is [Missouri] state police, local police, the National Guard, and others. The police station was closed. Eventually, some mobile police units coordinated themselves and took my testimony,” said Aleksey Bogdanovsky, a RIA Novosti correspondent in Washington.

He added that the officers were cooperative and asked all the details of the attack.

“I didn’t get the official copy of my statement, as the police are now working in extreme mode. So I have a paper with my statement number written by the officer.”

People walk towards a car lot where several cars had been burned and damaged following a night of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri November 25, 2014.(Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

The grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case was announced Monday evening by Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County. He said that “no probable cause exists” to file any charges against Wilson. A statement from Wilson’s attorney said his client had followed his training, as well as the law, when he shot Brown.

Supporters of Michael Brown were outraged by the decision, and launched a wave of protests across the US. In Ferguson, the protests also triggered rioting and looting, with a number of stores and cars set on fire. Police have estimated the reaction to be even more violent than the unrest in August, in the aftermath of Brown’s death.

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RIA Novosti became part of Rossiya Segodnya international news agency in 2014, which then launched a new brand, Sputnik International.